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It was nearing the end of August so I needed to get some plans settled, now that Steven would be living with me full time.  I was on holiday from the pool but that would end at the same time that school started.  This meant I needed a place for Steven to be two nights a week and Saturday mornings. Saturday mornings were not going to be a problem as there were lots of programs for Steven to be in, but Thursday and Friday evenings needed some work.  As a last resort I knew I could call on my parents but since they lived so far away, it was not really practical.  Then I remembered Eileen Parker.  She and her husband had two boys that were a little older than Steven. Being with them would be both a help for me and a great social experience for Steven.  She also lived in the same apartment complex which made it really workable.

Steven was with his mom for the day, so I decided to walk down to Eileen's apartment and have a talk with her.  As it turned out, she was thrilled that she could help out.  While I did tell her about Steven's mom's sickness, I did not get into details.  Before I agreed to all this, I wanted Steven to meet Mr. & Mrs. Parker and their two boys, Tony and Frazier.  I decided to invite them all to dinner tomorrow night.  That would give me a chance to see how the interactions worked between the boys and their parents and Steven.

Dinner was a great success and the three boys hit it off grandly.  It turns out the boys are only one and two years older than Steven, so they all have many of the same interests.  I watched as Steven listened to their stories and also as he asked his usual multitude of questions.  After the Parkers had left and dinner was all cleaned up, I sat and cuddled with Steven to get his impressions.

"What do you think of Tony and Frazier?"  I asked.

"They are great and friendly too.  Did you know they both play on a soccer team together?  They invited me to come watch them sometime.  Can I dad?" Steven was talking a mile a minute.

"You know that I have to work on Thursday and Friday evenings, so I was wondering if you thought you could stay with the Parkers on these two evenings until I get home.  You would go to bed at their place and I will bring you home to your room when I return."

I could see Steven thinking about this in his usual way. He thought this would be OK as he wanted Tony and Frazier to be his friends.  Then I got an unusual request from Steven.

"Dad, do you think they could come stay with me some night, like a sleepover?"

"I think that is a great idea, but we will always have to check with their parents first.  So, are you OK with staying at the Parkers on Thursday and Friday evenings?"

"No problem dad, I think it will be great."

I sent Steven off to shower and get ready for bed.  When he came back, he wanted to play a game of crazy eights, so I pulled out the cards and we played for about 20 minutes.  It was getting late for Steven and I noticed an increase in yawning.  I took him to the bathroom to get his teeth brushed and that is when I noticed something.  He was not using toothpaste.  Of course, why would he since he probably never has before.  We both took the time to brush our teeth as I used this as a lesson for him hoping it would be picked up as a standard nightly and morning routine.  He said the toothpaste made his teeth tickle, but he liked the taste. I had to remind him to spit it out and not swallow it.  I also made a note to have his teeth checked.  After I tucked him into bed and kissed him goodnight. I returned to the living room to call the Parkers.  Ten minutes later it was all arranged.  I was worried but at the same time relieved.

The next morning Steven and I went to the Parks and Recreation office to get some information on Saturday morning programs.  We took it home, talked about it for the next couple of days and decided on swimming lessons, boys tumbling/gymnastics and with no surprise, soccer camp.  I knew the last one was in response to playing with the Parker boys.  I also figured I could practice all of these with him during the week so he could become more proficient at them.  I told him how proud I was of his decisions and we then discussed the term commitment.  After this was over, I was confident that all was going to work out.

Later that afternoon I took Steven shopping for some new clothes for school.  While he would go to a public school where uniforms were not necessary, I still wanted him to have what he needed. After picking out and trying on shirts, pants, socks, sweaters, and shoes, Steven told me he was not going to try on and show me his underwear.  I told him that was OK as I could use his pants size to approximate his underwear size.  I also got him a new swim suit, towel and goggles, some gymnastic pants and two sets of soccer uniforms since I knew he would sweat a lot in these, and I only did laundry once a week.  On our way out of the mall, I saw back packs and thought this would be a good idea for trekking things to and from school and also for his Saturday activities.  Steven really like the one with the soccer ball on it so that is what he got.  I was a little surprised that it was so expensive but not unhappy with his choice.  I wanted this soccer thing to really work for him as I hoped it would add some weight and muscle to his very thin body.

By the time Sunday came around everything was in place. School would start tomorrow, and Steven would attend grade two in the same school I taught at.  He would be babysat on Thursday and Friday evenings by the Parkers and Saturday mornings would be activities in the same building where I was working, so I could both help him get to where he needed to be and watch him on my breaks.  All I could do now was to watch the ball start to roll.

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Harold Daw
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